Ever since the Ronco discussion I attended I’ve been thinking about student buy-in into the idea of real education, life of the mind, the caravan, etc. I’ve been swinging between an optimistic and a pessimistic view.
Most days I feel like getting on the roof of my house and shouting out to anyone who will listen about this exciting adventure I am on at Mary Washington. During these high points I can envision students grasping the concept of real and reflective learning and I want to be able to go to the FSEMs this fall and see the new freshman wrestle with this idea. I want to do what so many people have done for me and include them into “the conversation” and show them they can’t pass up this opportunity. I get genuinely excited at the thought of having conversations with fellow students on any topic through an academic lens. Instead of just complaining about classes students talking about what they learned and are even excited to share this information.
Of course with the high comes the crash down into the low valley of pessimism. There is such a culture of anti-school and in some ways anti-intellectualism among students that mass conversion seems impossible. I’m not looking for an instant change or mass conversion overnight but, I wonder how far can we get in the next three years? I’m taking this moment to be a little selfish in wanting all these changes to happen during my stay at Mary Washington but, I want it! I wonder how do we convince students that the caravan IS really cool? I do believe we are moving in the right direction by encouraging reflective thinking and using different tech tools to help make clear connections in learning but, is it enough? I just have visions of the future where technology has made it possible to see connections and has created a rich learning environment but, students do nothing with it. I guess this goes back to the argument made by several people that it is not about the tools but, what the technology enables people to do. Maybe I just don’t have faith in faculty and students to take this movement seriously. There is just so many ways for this to go wrong (I need to stop listening to emo music) that I often miss how many ways that it could work out. I have trouble convincing myself that even if we make a mistake it is ok, making a mess is ok.
I suppose a lot of this conflict comes from my own internal conflict. My secret desire to be a revolutionary even though I am usually adverse to risk and being outspoken. Steve recently sent me this cartoon. I think it describes exactly how I feel during those low moments when everything seems so impossible.